Documents: Suspect had 'nothing better to do' than kill woman - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Documents: Suspect had 'nothing better to do' than kill woman

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Courtesy: TH Media Courtesy: TH Media
Helman Betwell, 19, of Dubuque Helman Betwell, 19, of Dubuque
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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

A Dubuque man said he sexually assaulted and killed a random woman Tuesday because there "was nothing better to do," and says the victim was in the "wrong place at the wrong time," according to the criminal complaint obtained by KWWL Wednesday.

Police say a woman was found lying on the ground in the 100 block of West 17th St. early Tuesday morning with severe facial injuries. She was taken to Finley Hospital in Dubuque where she would later die of her injuries. 

Documents indicate there no weapons involved, and that she most likely was beaten to death.

According to a press release from police, Helmon Betwell, 19, was arrested Tuesday night and charged with first-degree murder, first-degree sexual assault and two counts of third-degree burglary.

Betwell made his initial appearance in court this morning via video from the Dubuque County Jail. His bond is set at $1 million cash.

Court documents are giving us a better picture of what happened Tuesday in Dubuque.

They say that police responded to a report of a woman being assaulted by a man just before 6 a.m. Tuesday morning near 75 W. 17th St.

The witness who made the call says he came out of his apartment and saw what he believed to be a man on top of a woman, striking her several times.

The man saw the witness, pulled his pants up, and took off running.

The witness called the police after finding the woman unresponsive.

According to the documents, traffic camera footage shows a man going through a Ford Explorer around 4:30 a.m. parked on 17th St. just east of Central Avenue. He opens the door, rummages through, but doesn't appear to take anything, they say.

At about the same time, a white woman matching the victim's description crossed Central Avenue, appears to purchase something, then crosses back and heads west on 17th Avenue.

According to the documents, the man seems to follow her across Central Avenue, but then opens the doors of a Chevy Impala, rummages through, and once again doesn't appear to take anything.

The woman then crosses W. 17th Street and the man follows.

There is a confrontation between the two, and it appears the man knocks her unconscious, picks her up and carries her up the stairs to the vacant property at 75 W. 17th St., the documents say.

According to the documents, he's off camera for a few minutes before he is seen again walking eastbound on W. 17th Street.

He crosses Central Avenue and goes north in the alley between White and Central and appears to enter the rear of a residence in the 1700 block of White Street.

At about 5:47 a.m., the same subject, wearing different clothes, leaves the same address and walks back to 75 W. 17th St., and is there for about 10 minutes when he is seen running back to the same residence. This was about the time the witness noticed the two of them, documents say.

Police say they took pictures of the suspects to the jail floor, where Dubuque County Sheriff's Office staff believed the man to be of Marshalese/Pacific Island descent.

The officer then started to search Facebook for several common Marshalese family names known to live in Dubuque. When he typed in Betwell, he found Helmon Betwell, and said his profile picture seemed to closely resemble the photos from the traffic cameras.

Police records show Betwell lives at 1763 White St., the same area they could see him going into houses in the traffic camera footage.

Police say they then made contact with Betwell at his house, and saw blue Nike tennis shoes in plain sight with what appeared to be blood on the soles.  They say Betwell also had minor injuries to his knuckles and indicated he fell, causing his knuckles to be scratched.

Investigators used that information to execute a search warrant, finding shoes that matched the suspect's from the camera footage, as well as blood smears in a main floor bathroom and a towel with what appeared to be blood stains on it also in the bathroom.

Betwell was taken to the Dubuque Law Enforcement Center and consented to an interview.

He admitted to breaking into the two vehicles with the intent of taking something, but couldn't find anything he wanted, documents say.

He also admitted to seeing the woman, knocking her out, taking her up to 75 W. 17th St. where he continued to "hit her everywhere" and sexually assault her, documents show.

Betwell told investigators that when he returned to the scene after going home, he noticed the woman had crawled into the grass, and he began to strike her again.

He left her lying there naked and returned home.

When asked why he did it, Betwell told investigators "there was nothing better to do" and he wanted to get in more trouble.

According to the documents, he did not know the victim and said she was "just in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Betwell's next court appearance is set for Friday, Sept. 11.

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